Today we have a Cardfighter Spotlight! I’ll be having the opportunity to interview the Champion Shadow Paladin player that accomplished 1st place overall in the Bushiroad Rumble Online (BRO) 2021 EU for the Premium format! His name is Karan Patel and is from the United States! Let’s get right into the interview!
Jaime: First off, congratulations to Karan Patel for becoming the Champion of the Bushiroad Rumble Online (BRO) 2021 EU! Today I wanted to do an interview with you about your overall experience and even get to know you a little bit for the readers. Sounds good amigo?
Karan: Sounds good! Glad to be here! Thank you for this opportunity.
Jaime: Of course! It’s a pleasure to have you on the blog! Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? Are you from any specific Vanguard teams/communities? Any other events that you and/or team have done well? Etc.
Karan: My name is Karan Patel and currently I am on no team (open to offers though 😉 ). I am part of the Cardfighters Underground community in Chicago, Illinois where I have lived most of my life.
I have been playing card games competitively since 2015 which has made a really large impact on my life. I have played and topped in other card games such as Yu-Gi-Oh!, Force of Will, Dragon Ball Super, Pokemon, and Digimon. In Vanguard I have started seeing success in 2019 and since then I have topped at least once in each major circuit.
- 2019 Bushiroad Spring Fest Team League Premium Chicago/USA – Top 8 (Spike Bothers)
- 2019 Bushiroad Championship Series Premium Chicago/USA – 1st (Shadow Paladin)
- 2021 Bushiroad Spring Fest Online Premium AO – Top 8 (Kagero)
- 2021 Bushiroad Rumble Online Premium EU – 1st (Shadow Paladin)
Jaime: That’s an impressive track record with all of those card games combined! It’s amazing how your success has transferred into Vanguard. How did you start playing Cardfight Vanguard?
Karan: My best friend Alex Pham is the one who originally got me into the game. Before even playing I knew about the anime and thought it was cool, but never thought about playing it because of the hastle it would be to pick up so many singles.
It was until he told me there was a special deck called a “Legend Deck” that would be made for Kagero that I could pick up and would only need a few minor additions to it to make it competitively viable.
I love fire type/themed decks and I always thought dragons were cool so this was a really easy choice for me. Once I got my deck built and ready to go, I visited a few locals around me and tried to see how I would fare. I got first at my very first locals and right then and there I was hooked. The G-Zone was one of the coolest takes on an extra deck mechanic.
Jaime: Nice! Dragons would definitely do it lol! I really like the Dragons in Aqua Force, and I’m glad there’s variety in Vanguard. During your preparation, what are some things that you mainly focused on? Certain matchups, deck builds, strategies, etc.
Karan: So first I would choose a deck that I would like to play for the event. Then I would make a somewhat generic build for it and proceed to playtest against friends online or in real life, who would use other meta decks or decks that hard counter mine.
After each game, I would try to adapt my playstyle to improve my matchups and after a week of testing, I would go back to the deckbuilding process and see what was working and what wasn’t. This is a very slow process but is very effective based on past experiences.
After a few weeks to maybe even a month depending on the prep time, I would finally have a build that I would have 100% confidence playing with.
Jaime: That’s great to see you have your own solid process! You recognize it may be slow, but it has been working for you. Keep it up! What made you decide on Shadow Paladin to play with? Why a Luard variant?
Karan: I only choose Shadow Paladin because of Luard. Since 2017 he has been not only my favorite card but overall deck in the game. Thanks to the Ritual mechanic the deck is extremely toolbox-like with a little bit of everything. Board control, draw power/filtering, recycling, free stride, consistency, etc.
Jaime: Awesome, let’s dive into your deck list. I see that you’re only playing 4 G3 Normal units as in the Dragfall, Luard. While playing the new G3 Heal Guardians too. How did it work out for you? Did you get grade stuck or misrode, and also did cards like Branwen help?
Karan: Even in testing while sometimes I may have been grade stuck, I have never misrode once. The deck’s overall filtering, thining allowed me to dig for Luard pretty easy early on. Heal Guardians are 100% my favorite addition to not only the deck but the game!
I love how it can help me against decks with very early power aggression, like Overlord and Regalia. Branwen is definitely one of the MVPs of the deck just because of her consistency throughout the game. Early game, it can dig for Luard or Heal Guardians, while mid to late game she can come out and swing for big numbers.
Jaime: Wow, never have misrode! Some players have had hesitation with the G3 Heal Guardians in decks that have low Normal G3s, glad it worked out for you! I also see that you’re playing a lot of G1s, specifically 19! What were some key things that made you want to go to this ratio? Were there key G1s that you always wanted to see in your games?
Karan: Because of how the Ritual mechanic works, my deck works based on the number of Grade 1 cards in my drop zone. My main win condition relies on Ritual 10, and to have free stride I would need Ritual 4.
While I can turn my trigger units in dropzone to count as grade 1 cards, there are some turns I would prefer not to use my open counterblasts to activate that condition. Personally, I think 18 Grade 1s are the ideal ratio but I decided to take out one Grade 2 to add another Grade 1 tech.
The best part about the deck is that every Grade 1 is not only searchable but they all fill multiple situations. I think if I had name any key Grade 1s it would have to be Nemain for her ability to build a board for virtually nothing, Esras for being a recyclable perfect guard, and as mentioned earlier Branwen.
Jaime: Great points and it makes a lot of sense, especially since you play Dragfall, Luard to free stride as well. I see you’re playing Vicreau, Craiftine, Honoly, Ogma, Sebreeze, and Spectral Blaster “Diablo”. Interesting 1 of’s, can you elaborate why you came to those choices/ratios? Any other card choices you’d like to point out?
Karan: Luard has the ability to place normal units that are in drop, back into the deck to pay for his Stride cost. With that in mind, one of the cards like Vicreau and Honoly can go back into the deck to be played again whenever I needed them.
Craiftine was an interesting tech that I took inspiration from one of my previous Luard builds from years ago. It fills a similar niche to Belial Owl but also allows me to have another Stand trigger in the deck. Hitting a single Stand trigger in this deck can turn an explosive 4 attack turn into a 6 attack turn just like that.
As for Ogma, Sebreeze, and Spectral Blaster “Diablo”, they all filled specific niches that while didn’t see play in the event, are just nice to have in the deck since they don’t hurt the G-Zone’s ratios as I could easily just flip them for cost for Morfessa’s ability.
Sebreeze is simply in here in case the grade 2 game has lasted a little too long and I want to take the leap and try to end the game on the spot.
Ogma was a fun tech I choose only in a niche case I could not use Morfessa properly and my opponent has no cards on their side of the field. I would be able to try and force out 5 cards from my opponent’s hand, potentially leaving them with no way to play next turn.
And as for Spectral Blaster, he was just in there for the very rare case I am against Link Joker and my other two front row circles are locked, therefor I am forced to go into a restanding Vanguard to apply pressure.
I think the deck choice I would like to point out is Dragwizard Liafail. This card is basically like a mini-Luard where he can tutor for any Grade 1 from my deck which can not only extend my plays, but increase consistency on my draw as well as drive checks.
Jaime: Awesome thanks for explaining those card choices. Hitting a Stand trigger on a Morfessa turn, is really spicy.
With this build, what was your winning image for most of your games? Like did you have a setup, game state, or strategy that you focused on?
Karan: The deck’s main winning image definitely has to be hitting Ritual 10 on first stride to activate Morfessa’s ability. The sheer amount of raw stats that Morfessa brings to the table makes the effort to reach that number completely worth it in my opinion.
Cards like Nemain early on can allow me to build a board of Grade ones that I can later dump into the drop zone for abilities or just calling over.
Morion Spear allowed me to filter cards from my hand to not only turbo my Ritual count, but also let me dig into extenders or even defensive cards for my opponent’s turn.
And just in case I can’t reach the ritual 10 efficiently, I have Blue Espada who can help me just take a chunk of my deck and send it to the drop. Hitting Ritual 10 honestly is not that hard.
The hard part is doing it while keeping a healthy hand size to face your opponent on their next stride turn. The deck also has a pretty solid grade 2 game due to the early card advantage the deck can generate both in hand and on the field.
Mastering the G2 game can also potentially guarantee an instant kill on your first stride.
Jaime: I definitely see the amount of effort is put into Ritual being worth it. Morfessa is really strong and that 1st stride turn makes a big difference in this format. During your games, which decks/clans did you face?
Karan: In Swiss, I faced the following:
- R1 Gear Chronicle – Chronojet Mystery Flare turbo
- R2 D Police – Dailiner
- R3 Genesis – Regalia
- R4 Tachikaze – Spinodriver
- R5 D Police – Daikaizer
- R6 Nova Grappler – Victor
- R7 Narukami – Eradicator (Shoutout to Toly Ilja)
- R8 Bermuda Triangle – Coral
In Top 8 I faced the following:
- Top8 D Police – Daikaizer (Same opponent in R5)
- Semi-Finals Granblue – Nightrose (Shoutout to Kelvin)
- Finals Narukami – Eradicator (Same opponent in R7)
Jaime: Wow, you definitely got a wide variety of strong decks! Was there a game you would like to highlight? Like your toughest matchup, best game, break or deal moments, etc.
Karan: There are three games I would like to highlight:
R7 Narukami – Eradicator: This was the loss in swiss that I took personally the most (Shoutout to Toly Ilja). It was the first game of the entire weekend where I feel like my opponent had control of the entire game. Even though I had the ability to read all their cards before our round started, I was not prepared for how their strategy works and was overwhelmed by the sheer amount of battle traps they had both onboard and in their hand. After that game instead of beating myself up over the loss. I tried to recreate the game in my head and play it out but with strategies and attack patterns just in case I would ever have to face this deck again. This allowed me to keep a positive an upbeat attitude when going into my next round.
Semi-Finals Granblue: This game was against WCC Kelvin who I have played against previously in BSFO AO Premium. Even though this was the semi-finals, I was not nervous in the slightest. I wasn’t overconfident or anything, I was just having a lot of fun! The game could have went either way and at the end of it, we ended the game on great terms and even swore that we would see each other next time Bushiroad hosts IRL worlds!
R2 D Police – Dailiner: This game was a make-or-break for me. The entire game I was getting damage denied because every attack was coming in for 3 criticals while I was at 3. I never expected to actually go through all three Morfessas. My final turn was actually going into Dragabyss Luard and gaining +30k to the front row while in time. This was a very unique game because even the judge was impressed how this matchup was extremely grindy. Didn’t help I completely forgot that Geomaglass gave intercept to Grade 3s LMBO.
Jaime: Wow, that was really insightful, thanks for sharing those games! During your games, what is something that you appreciated about your deck from the preparation you’ve done? The strategy of it, consistency, power, plays, etc.
Karan: I really loved the consistency of the deck as well as the plays of the deck. On a surface level, it looks like it’s just, use Nemain skill and Dagda for multi attacks.
But going more in-depth it’s also about your drop zone manipulation, resource efficiency, counting cards in deck, flexibility on starting hands, and even different ways to play the G2 game.
I was originally going to take a Dragdriver V build to the event but opted out to Dragfall when I decided that I wanted to take consistency over power for the event.
In a long event that is also B01 like BRO, BCS, BSF, etc . I personally think consistency needs to be above all else as even a single misplay or slightly weaker hand than average could cost you the game.
If my opponent makes a powerful turn and leaves me with no cards in hand and I don’t draw stride fodder, I’m doomed. Dragfall was able to give me the consistency I was looking for while only sacrificing Imaginary Gift and stronger base stats.
While it did hurt to be on an 11k at times, I was able to make up for it by generating a larger hand size thanks to the stride skill calling Belial Owl or even Abyssal Owl at times.
Jaime: Consistency is key! Especially in bigger tournaments, I think you made the right call and it got you far as being the Champ! How many rounds were in the tournament? How was your record throughout? Was there a Top 8?
Karan: 8 rounds of swiss where I went 6-2 and placed 7th place. My losses were to Nova Grappler Victor in round 6 and Narukami Eradicator in round 7. Was amazed that 3 of my opponents in swiss made it into top 8. Made me feel like I really earned my spot there as well.
Jaime: That’s awesome they made it into Top 8 as well. That must have helped your tie-breakers too so that you made it into Top 8. How were your finals games?
Karan: I tried to stay whelmed as my opponent was Toly Ilja who was my hardest matchup in Swiss. Using what I learned in our previous game I adapted my game plan accordingly and tried to use my stride skill to snipe units who can disrupt my board and focused on his rearguards before swinging face.
I would always try to call a full board as well to dodge cards like Impede Dragon and Koenshak in the process. I also clenched the Quick Shield in hand the entire game so when I would need to discard for Stunverse I would discard it and because of how the Quick Shield works, It would fizzle and reduce the number of cards in the bind zone. This would make his next Stunverse play a little weaker as I would now need to discard one less card for its ability.
Jaime: Wow, very smart plays that you quickly adapted after one prior game. After the tournament, did you take some time to reflect? Anything that you learned from your experience?
Karan: To be completely honest, I just passed out since I was up at late hours to play in the event. When I woke up from my nap I just keep hearing my phone go off with notifications. So many messages, missed calls, retweets, etc. all to show me support.
It really melted my heart and felt exhilarating. I did learn a bit from the event. One of the biggest ones was how amazing the European player base was. No matter what happened each game win or lose my opponents would always have a conversation with me after the games and it would always leave a smile on my face.
And also this Premium format is way more diverse than I thought! I did not expect to see decks like Aqua Force as well as Nova Grapplers perform so well and it really proved me wrong. Decks I expected to flood the top tables such as Regalia and Kagero were rarely seen and that was a huge surprise for me.
Jaime: Yes, the European player base are really cool people. I have a good amount of friends out there as well. I felt the same about Regalia and Overlord ha! Would you like to do any shout-outs to people that you know and/or have helped you along your journey?
Karan: I have a pretty big list of people I would like to go through the amount of support from my friends even the ones who don’t play Vanguard at all was amazing and brought a tear to my eye.
Thank you Alex Pham for being my best friend for over 12 years and showing me Vanguard which completely changed my life!
Thank you to Kevin, David C, Alston, Andrew, Albert, Ty, Daniel, Bryan, Dean, Jae, David R, Ian, and Dirk for helping me with testing and overall just getting better at the game.
And thank you to George, Ange, Masho, David Rueda, Anthony, Danny, Nathan, and Nathaniel for being overall supportive friends who cheered me on despite knowing how to play Vanguard.
Jaime: That’s great stuff! I’m sure your amigos are happy and excited about your accomplishment! A good amount of them are my amigos too! Shout-out to Cardfighter’s Underground! Just one more question and we’ll be done amigo. While preparing with Shadow Paladin, did you use/see any social media to help you solidify your build? Such as blogs, YouTube videos/channels, Facebook, Reddit, etc.
Karan: To be completely honest. No, I constructed the list using matchup knowledge, testing with friends and fellow strong players, and looked at previous builds I had used to improve upon it for this event.
However, in the past when I decided to try and be more competitive in Vanguard I was a big fan of Card Protagonist’s Youtube channel. The man took a deck he never played before to a regional and topped with it. That’s some pure skill I tell you what!
Jaime: That’s awesome, sometimes that’s enough ha! Thanks again for joining me in this interview!
Karan: Thank you for the interview invitation. It was a pleasure to do this!
Jaime: I wish you the best and hope to see more from you in the metagame! Till next time amigos!
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this interview! I just wanted to highlight some takeaways that can help players out!
Handling A Game Loss During A Tournament
Karan mentioned, “After that game instead of beating myself up over the loss. I tried to recreate the game in my head and play it out but with strategies and attack patterns just in case I would ever have to face this deck again. This allowed me to keep a positive an upbeat attitude when going into my next round.…”
I’m glad Karan mentioned this about his experience during the event. I have noticed some players get a really bad attitude after losing a round. Once they’re in that bad attitude and don’t quickly change it, you can tell they’re going to lose the rest of the tournament and scrub out.
In this instance, it mattered even more since it did help Karan get to Top 8, but he faced the same opponent in the finals as well! It was very key for him to have a better chance of winning this time, which served him well!
So definitely shift your focus off the loss and learn from it. Then move on.
Having Fun While With High Stakes
Karan also mentioned, “Even though this was the semi-finals, I was not nervous in the slightest. I wasn’t overconfident or anything, I was just having a lot of fun!”
Yes, it’s a high-level region event and there’s recognition and prizes involved. However, still do your best to enjoy your rounds if your goal is to make it to Top 8 or win the whole event.
You as a reader may be wondering, why point this out? We all have seen players that take the game too serious, that it takes the fun and even sometimes life out of you ha.
You’ve already prepared to the best of your ability. Now go play to the best of your ability and have fun.
If you get nervous because it’s an important round or featured game, just focus on the game and take your time. Your focus helps dictate your performance.
Consistency Vs Power In Bigger Events
Karan mentioned, “In a long event that is also B01 like BRO, BCS, BSF, etc . I personally think consistency needs to be above all else as even a single misplay or slightly weaker hand than average could cost you the game.“
Any great deck has to have a great level of consistency. There’s a balance too because some decks may have more aggressive actions. Luard is a good example and it paid off for him.
We all have had games where we’ve “bricked” and lost because of it. There are ways to help against it. Some decks are more consistent than others. Do your best on finding that right balance with your decks.
Thanks again for reading this Cardfighter Spotlight article! It’s great to see an awesome Cardfighter like Karan winning 1st place overall! Thanks again to Karan for joining us today as well! Till next time amigos!
Also, feel free to check out my feedback on his deck on YouTube too!
Karan Patel’s Social Media:
Commander Jaime’s Social Media: